bionet-help as group name

Dave Kristofferson kristoff at GENBANK.BIO.NET
Thu Jan 23 15:57:19 EST 1992

>         I agree that the pattern of votes on reorganization plans can be
> interpreted as favoring an open discussion forum and a moderated announcement
> forum, without need for a runoff.

Thanks, Fote.

> However, I think it would have been better
> to create the division before proceeding with further discussion on
> reorganization, i.e., give those who want just low volume, bona fide
> announcements what they want, and then continue the discussion in a proper
> forum.

These changes take a while to get set up and tested at each site.  I
needed to get things resolved first before sending out instructions on
what needed to be done.  I apologize to everyone for having more
general discussions here, but it is much more efficient for us if we
can do all of these changes in one shot instead of trying to get
people at all of the BIOSCI sites to respond to piecemeal requests.
I'm trying to gauge what everyone wants to do before we do it.

>         An important issue raised in this discussion concerns subscriptions.
> This is a problem for both BITNET and Internet/USENET sites.  W.r.t BITNET
> sites, the "standard" way to find out about LISTSERV lists is to send
> LISTSERV at BITNIC the message "SEND LISTSERV GROUPS", which retrieves a file
> with a master list of lists.  The BIOSCI forums are not described in that
> document.

As I mentioned earlier, we'll look into this.  I was under the
impression that IRLEARN had submitted the appropriate registration
notices a **long** time ago from articles that I saw in Netmonth by
Niall O'Reilly from there.  As I don't use BITNET directly myself, I
won't know about this unless it is called to my attention.  Thanks for
doing so.

> LISTSERV at IRLEARN handles BIOSCI lists, the "standard" procedure is to send it
> the message "lists" for a short (default) list of its lists, or the message
> "lists long" or "lists detailed" for a file with details about the lists.  The
> latter file also describes how to subscribe to the BIOSCI lists, which is NOT
> a "standard" method for LISTSERVers (for BIOSCI lists, one must insert or
> substitute a '+' somewhere in the actual name), and does NOT tell you about

The + was used because the "standard" method was causing problems at
some network gateways in Europe if I remember correctly.  Niall dealt
with this problem a couple of years ago.

>         W.r.t. Internet/USENET sites, one typically looks at messages in
> groups whose name sounds "interesting" and keeps reading the group if it
> actually is interesting to oneself.  If it has an email homolog, one
> eventually "discovers" this through a regularly posted INFO or FAQ sheet.  In
> bionet, an INFO sheet is posted once a month, only in bionet.general (and I

I'd be elated if you or anyone else wants to volunteer and do FAQs for
other newsgroups.  FAQs on other USENET groups are the result of
volunteer effort.  There is only so much I can handle on my own.

> presume it will go instead to bionet.general.announce after the split actually
> occurs).  Depending on whether a site expires messages at one or two weeks

Right, to bionet.announce.  I will encourage all new subscribers to
subscribe to bionet.announce so that they will stay informed of
changes.  The fact that it will be lower volume and higher content
will make this possible.  Right now, it's hard to convince people to
stay on bionet.general just to receive the latest info sheet.  There
will be an info sheet (tailored for the distribution site) and a new
FAQ sheet soon.

> (the most common durations), the subscription information will be present only
> 25% or 50% of the time.  If a typical (IMHO) prospective bionet user sampled
> bionet.general this week, and read all those messages about the implications
> of the word "help" versus combinations and permutations of the words 'user'
> and 'info', etc., s/he might NEVER discover that INFO sheet.  I'm not saying
> that choosing optimal forum names is unimportant (I think it is VERY, VERY
> important), but that only a small percentage of the bionet readership would
> participate in such a discussion or continue reading it.

Names are very important to do correctly because this is how a user
gets attracted to a newsgroup in the first place.

>         The best suggestion thus far (IMHO) w.r.t. Internet/USENET sites and
> subscription problems is Tom's to create:  bionet.subscribe.  If that were a
> *moderated* "forum" in which an (improved) subscription INFO sheet were posted
> every week -- and nothing else -- it would always have one (if the expiration
> is 1 wk) or more (if it's longer) copies of the INFO sheet and could be easily
> found and read based on the "forum's" name.  If Dave were its moderator, and
> someone tried to post a subscription request there (because the INFO sheet
> still wasn't clear enough for that person, or wasn't actually read), Dave
> would get the message and could act on it as if it had been sent properly.

The info sheet will be greatly simplified soon.  Remember though that
the people who have USENET software and who are going to see a message
archived in their "bionet.subscribe" newsgroup, **do not need** an
e-mail subscription.  They have news already and can look at any group
that they desire.  Creating a newsgroup for people who don't already
have news and who need to find out how to get an e-mail subscription
doesn't solve anything.  They can only send mail to some address that
they somehow find out about to get info, and there is no need that
that address must broadcast their request all around the world.
Having a moderated newsgroup which sends messages only to me is not
essentially different from having a mailing address and then I'll have
to sort out requests for the other BIOSCI nodes too.  The obvious
solution is to make sure that the subscription address is clearly
presented in the info sheet.  As Una suggested earlier, this might be
best accomplished by announcing it earlier in the info sheet.
Currently we list the groups that are available and *then* give the
subscription addresses.  The fact that instructions are included for
all four sites also complicates things (splitting the instructions up
will be clearer but also makes for yet more work when revisions are
needed unfortunately).  Ultimately, however, at some point
instructions can only be made so simple.  People will still have to
take the time to read them.


				Dave Kristofferson
				GenBank Manager

				kristoff at

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